A Jackson County, Illinois judge entered a $16.3 million verdict against The Peoples National Bank of McLeansboro on Friday, July 29 in a case that spanned 14 years.
The judge found the bank had breached its fiduciary duty and illegally converted assets held for the benefit of two southern Illinois businessmen.
In the 29-page judgement, the judge found that the bank had engaged in "repeated and intentional conduct" with "knowledge that said conduct would result in harm" to Bob and Terry Newman.
The judgement found the bank converted a letter of credit held for the benefit of the Newmans to its own use. It also stated that the bank failed to provide notice to the Newmans of the bank's use of the letter of credit and that it denied the Newmans access to information, despite repeated requests by the Newmans.
As a result, the court awarded more than $6.5 million in compensatory damages and more than $9.8 million in punitive damages.
According to the judgement, "the bank's conduct was intentional and repeated and perpetrated with knowledge of the likely and significant harm that would befall the Newmans."
The court added, "...despite their effort to gain information from the bank, using forged documents to leave the Newmans responsible, without their knowledge, for over $800,000 of indebtedness..."